Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Tangled Up In You by Rachel Gibson ****(*)

RE-READ ON AUDIO (notes at the end) - first read in June 2008

I'm happy to say I liked this one quite a lot. Really, I should not have let See Jane Score scare me off Gibson, because I've liked everything since that.

However, caveat alert, I think I need to read some historical romance for a while because the scenarios are starting to seem alike and it's confusing. This plot had elements of both Susan Andersen's Head Over Heels and Linda Howard's After The Night, enough to make me start wondering if I'd already read the book. Not to say it was a rip-off, just that the elements were there.

There's a family bar (like Head Over Heels) only the owner is the hero, not the heroine. Mick owns 2 bars in town, and one of them has been in his family for generations. I did spend a few minutes wondering who owned and ran the bar from the time Mick's father was killed when he was 5 until the time he returned from a stint in the military 25 years later...

There's a love triangle that ended in murder involving his father and mother and her mother (like After The Night) and it concerned the father threatening to run off with the other woman instead of just having an affair (also After The Night). Since the father had so many affairs for so long, this is supposed to be unusual (also After The Night). Maybe if I hadn't just read the other 2... But there's one other element, Mick's need to protect not only his sister but his vulnerable and fatherless nephew that smacks of Andersen's writing in several books as well as Howard's After The Night. It's a universal enough scenario that, again, I don't feel it's a rip off, but it still made me keep thinking, have I read this before??

The heroine is Maddie, a true crime writer, who is moved to write the story of her mother's murder after discovering her mother's diaries. Maddie was only 5 when it happened, and her own memories are faded and distorted. But reading the diaries brings her mother's life more into focus. She buys a house in the small town where the murder occurred and moves there to start her research. She decides to use her pen name instead of her own name to keep her identity a secret - even from Mick, and even knowing it's a mistake.

Mick is immediately drawn to Maddie from her first appearance in his bar. It's not the bar where her mother was murdered - she can't bring herself to go into that bar yet. But it's a small town, and he soon learns why she is in town - to stir up memories of something he doesn't want to think about. He wants her to stop it and leave town. (After The Night, anyone?) But he also badly wants to know what she tastes like since she uses all these food-scented body products... and he can't seem to stop himself from getting just a taste.

Maddie's been celibate for 4 years, and every time he goes for a little taste, she wrestles with her conscience but gives him a little more each time. She knows once she reveals her true identity, he'll leave her alone. But she can't seem to stop, that is she can't stop letting him have a little more each time. So she just keeps rationalizing that she'll tell him next time...

The sister is a sort of loose cannon. She seems to have inherited her mother's mental issues - depression and maybe other psychoses. She seeks out Maddie and tells her some things, in an effort to be sure that Maddie reports it fairly - or rather, that she not make out Mick's mother to be mentally ill, even though she was. She gives the impression she knows more than she's telling, although she was only 10 when it happened.

This is one review at AAR that reflects exactly how I felt about this book - the plotline is serious but the writer still manages to infuse it with humor as well as passion. Her love scenes are hot enough to burn your fingers while reading. And her HEA is rewarding and satisfying. I'm thinking it's between 4 and 5 stars for me.


Just finished this and the 4th in the Author Friends series on audio - if only books 1 and 2 had also been released! As I wrote about Not Another Bad Date, the narrator, Nicole Poole, is a new narrator for me, and she's good! Really good - like almost as good as Anna Fields or Barbara Rosenblat! Her voices and accents are done well and consistently and her acting (via the narration) is great. It's a true talent to be able to read/narrate a story, doing all the voices and being convincing through acting only with the voice - no body language, nothing visible to help you. Anyway, I'll be on the lookout for more books by Ms Poole. The narration is definitely 5-star worthy.

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